Use the Five "R's" to properly take, use, and review your notes for a course "Academic & Career Development Center," n.d.):
Record: Type or write down all the significant and meaningful information you hear during a lecture or lesson. It can be facts, concepts, equations, or key terms/definitions. Make sure you record them legibly.
Reduce: After the lesson or lecture, read through the notes and summarize them mentally in your own words. This reinforces the information, improves understanding, and strengthens your memory.
Recite: Without having your notes in front of you, try and repeat as much of the information from them as you can. Make note of any key facts or concepts that you missed.
Reflect: Compare your own questions and opinions about the subject to your notes. Record any questions that arise.
Review: Read through your notes often to retain the information that you have learned. The more often you review them, the faster you will remember.
These steps are applicable to all disciplines because they help you learn information faster, regardless of topic!
Aside from the Five "R's", there are several ways you can take notes. Different techniques may be more effective depending on the course or subject area. The following are commonly used strategies for taking notes in an academic setting:
The video below from Southern New Hampshire University provides a nice overview of note-taking and note-taking resources at the college level.
Cornell Notes are a special note-taking strategy where you create columns with key words and concepts along with summaries to accompany them. The technique involves separating your notebook paper or document into three sections:
This process makes you recite the content more than once and in your own words, which helps you remember the information long-term.
Below is a visual template of what Cornell Notes look like:
For more details on using the Cornell Notes method, check out the video below from Cornell University.
When taking notes on topics in the humanities or social sciences:
When taking notes on topics in STEM (Gerver, 2018):